Everything in France, with the exception of Paris, closes down between noon and 2pm and being jetlagged, I did not arrive in Senlis until 11:30. I started wandering about but quickly realized that no museum, restroom, or shop was open. To kill time, I headed for the cathedral, which had just finished its Palm Sunday services. In the middle of the nave, a priest was conducting a baptismal ceremony. I sat in back to listen to his chanting and his French. His melodic voice reverberated off the walls and practically shook the pews. What a wonderful demonstration of medieval acoustics. Imagine the uneducated peasant living in a hovel, coming here several times a week. The voice of the priest must have sounded like the voice of God itself and the high reaching vaults must have felt like heaven. Every time I visit Europe, I am drawn to the old churches and the Catholic ceremonies. I think if I lived there, I would have to convert. The church seems as much a part of the country as the language.
Senlis Medieval Images
Senlis is known for it narrow, cobblestone streets, and medieval airs. I found the reputation to be well deserved. After several hours of walking about on the cobblestones, my feet were aching. Like, Chantilly, I was surprised at how barren the town looked. No colorful signs or flower boxes extended from the walls. The whole area seemed to be in the grip of an eternal dreariness.
After 2PM, and things opened again, I headed for the old capitol museum. This is a series of ruins inside a walled courtyard. The ruins were from old churches, towers, and governmental buildings. The nicer of the bunch has been converted into a museum of hunting, which was free with admission and only took 15 minutes to peruse.
I am glad that I took a couple of extra days before my conference, because once it started, I was a captive from 8am to 10:30pm and would not have seen a thing otherwise. My three destinations covered the gamut. The Chateau de Chantilly gave me a taste of the grandeur and decadence of the aristocracy, the Royaumont Abby peace and industry of the cloisters, and Senlis the narrowness (both physical and mental) of a medieval village.